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Going the Distance … with Elliott Sadler

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Each week, Popular Speed will ask a different NASCAR personality 10 questions about their career, lifestyle or off-beat personality traits. Next up: Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series veteran Elliott Sadler.

Popular Speed:  Do you still feel the novelty or aura of getting to a race track each week?

Elliott Sadler: Hell yeah, man. This is what I live to do and I can’t picture myself doing anything else. This is fun and I hope to be doing this for a long time to come too.

PS:  What first attracted you to motorsports?

Sadler: My mom and dad took me to the track when I was just a couple of months old. My uncles raced and my dad owned race cars while I grew up so it was in my family. We were fans long before I was involved in it so it’s cool to me to sit in the stands at a place like Bristol because I came here at six or seven years old and it’s neat to come back and see the changes.

I’ve always been a fan on the sport and being a part of it is so rewarding.

PS: Would you rather be a driver 20 years ago or 20 years from now.

Sadler: Both. (laughs) Can I do both?

PS: Please? (laughs)

Sadler: Racing is going to change and it has changed so much but hopefully it will be strong in the future and continue to have great fans that to show up every week. Hopefully the tracks are the same too.

PS: Have you ever raced with a serious injury?

Sadler: Knock on wood, I’ve never had any broken bones but I was very sore after the Pocono wreck (in 2010) after I hit the inside wall. The next week, all my muscles were sore so I’ve raced sore where you take a lot of Tylenol to help you get through the next week but I don’t think any major injuries, which when you think of it is fortunate because I’ve had a few really hard hits. NASCAR has done a great job of updated the safety features of the sport.

PS: Could NASCAR benefit from a tire war or do we need to learn our lessons from the early 90s?

Sadler: That was before my time. My brother had to go through that. I hope to God that we don’t have another tire war because drivers lives were at risk To run fast you have to make them softer and guys were blowing out their right front and things like that and the drivers were paying for it. Goodyear does a great job for us, it’s exciting and more importantly, it’s a safety first tire.

PS: Do you have any tracks remaining on your bucket list? You’ve been everywhere, man.

Sadler: I never got a chance to race North Wilkesboro. I would love to still race at Rockingham… man what a race track we had there in Rockingham. So that’s two that I wish we still raced at some.

PS: You watching anything on TV right now?

Sadler: College basketball, man… as I should. It’s March Madness. We should all be watching college basketball!

PS: What is your favorite all-time paint scheme.

Sadler: One of mine…any of the pink ones that I ran because my mom is a breast cancer survivor. I remember when Stanley Tools allowed me to run a completely pink race car seven years ago and that stood out to me. That was very special.

PS: Favorite race city… beyond the track.

Sadler: Las Vegas. Definitely Vegas.

PS:  What is one make-or-break moment that defined your career?

Sadler: The one thing that still haunts me is the 2009 Daytona 500 when I led the whole thing until the end and I made a wrong move and lost the lead. I moved up and they moved down, Matt Kenseth made a great move and the rain came out seconds later and ended the race. If I had just held on five seconds later I would have been the Daytona 500 champion. So that one really hurts still .

PS: So you think of what that could have done for your career, your legacy?

Sadler: It could have done so many more things for my career, definitely.

Previous Going the Distance Q&As

Daytona: Alex Bowman

Phoenix: Joey Logano

Las Vegas: Reed Sorenson

Bristol: Elliott Sadler

Matt Weaver is the Executive Editor of POPULAR SPEED. He has covered NASCAR since 2011 and full-time since 2013. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He has been published all across the country and routinely makes radio appearances on Sirius XM Satellite radio and NBC Sports Radio Network.

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